Tag Archives | Apps

Using Smart Gadgets As Tools Of Social Control

How devices will soon begin pressuring us to “fix” our behavior. Via the Wall Street Journal, Evgeny Morozov writes:

Many smart technologies are heading in a disturbing direction. A number of thinkers in Silicon Valley see these technologies as a way not just to give consumers new products that they want but to push them to behave better. The central idea is clear: social engineering disguised as product engineering.

Last week in Singapore, Google Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette restated Google’s notion that the world is a “broken” place whose problems, from traffic jams to inconvenient shopping experiences to excessive energy use, can be solved by technology. The futurist and game designer Jane McGonigal, a favorite of the TED crowd, also likes to talk about how “reality is broken” but can be fixed by making the real world more like a videogame, with points for doing good.

Insurance companies already offer significant discounts to drivers who agree to install smart sensors in order to monitor their driving habits.

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Chubby Checker Sues HP Over Penis Size App

WIKI CHUBBY CHECKER 2Some men might be flattered if a penis size app was named after them, but not Chubby Checker, reports WebOS Nation:

Attorney Willie Gary of Stuart, Florida, has filed a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court, Florida’s Southern District, against HP and Palm on behalf of performer Ernest Evans over the Silicon Valley firms’ hosting of an app titled “The Chubby Checker” hosted in the webOS App Catalog. The app, a play on the stage name of Mr. Evans – Chubby Checker, was created by developer Magic Apps, was designed as a calculator for estimating the penis size of a man given the input of his shoe size.

The app was downloaded 84 times before being removed from the App Catalog in September of 2012 and no longer available in the store on device or in the App Catalog web listings. “Chubby Checker” is held as a trademark by the Ernest Evans Corporation.

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Silent Circle, The New Encryption App That Is Terrifying The Government

The idea is to “democratize encryption” by making it available to the non-tech-savvy with the push of a button. Will this be used for good or evil? Slate‘s Ryan Gallagher explains:

The startup tech firm Silent Circle’s groundbreaking encrypted data transfer app will enable people to send files securely from a smartphone or tablet at the touch of a button—photographs, videos, spreadsheets, you name it—sent scrambled from one person to another in a matter of seconds.

The technology uses a sophisticated peer-to-peer encryption technique that allows users to send encrypted files of up to 60 megabytes through a “Silent Text” app. The sender of the file can set it on a timer so that it will automatically “burn”—deleting it from both devices after a set period of, say, seven minutes. It’s a game-changer that will almost certainly make life easier and safer for journalists, dissidents, diplomats, and companies trying to evade surveillance.

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Apple Rejects Drone Strike Notification App

Drone+, which drops a pin on the map whenever a U.S. drone makes a kill, was rejected by Apple first as “not useful,” then as “objectionable.”  Because the whole point of drone killings is that we don’t have to know or think about them. CNET writes:

Apple has rejected an iPhone app designed to keep track of fatalities caused by U.S. drone strikes for its “objectionable” content.

Drones+ sends text messages to iPhones whenever the media reports casualties resulting from a drone strike and shows users the locations of drone strikes on a Google map.

Apple has rejected the app three times this summer, the most recent of which cited App Store guidelines that prohibit “objectionable” content, according to Josh Begley, the app’s creator. “I totally understand it from Apple’s perspective,” he said. “They don’t want to have anything that could be considered controversial by anyone. I get that, and I understand that.”

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iPad Painting App For Cats Unveiled

Most of the pet-oriented phone apps have been dismal as one would expect (chasing a virtual mouse bouncing across the screen, et cetera), but Paint for Cats should be cherished for allowing the expression of nonhuman creativity. Art of the future should not be restricted to humans. Metro UK writes:

A ball of string used to keep cats entertained – but it seems an iPad is more appealing to the our feline friends these days after a US company opted to develop some new tablet Apps specifically for them.

The app [Paint for Cats] makes a colourful paw imprint when a cat touches the screen. It was recently tested at an animal shelter where it received a positive response, with bigger cats such as lions and tigers even taking to it.

Creator TJ Fuller said: ‘I had seen so many YouTube videos of cats playing with iPads but of course they were playing games designed for humans… I would love to do a game for dogs but they generally don’t react to that sort of stimuli like cats do.

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ACLU Phone App Lets You Secretly Record Police Interactions

An adorable animation unveiling the ACLU's free Police Tape app, available initially for Android and soon for iOS. You too can be a watchdog!
Citizens can hold police accountable in the palms of their hands with "Police Tape," a smartphone application from the ACLU of New Jersey that allows people to securely record and store interactions with police, as well as provide legal information about citizens' rights when interacting with the police.
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‘See Something Say Something’ Phone App Unveiled For Mass Transit

 Did you know that Big Brother is a crowdsourcing project? The ELERTS Corporation on their See Say App, which the greater Boston area’s Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority is urging commuters to adopt:

The app is designed to let riders easily and instantly report suspicious activity to Transit authorities with their smartphones – crowdsourcing public safety with thousands of eyes and ears on the ground. When people see something, they can send something – with photos, text and incident location details that go directly to Transit Police.

“If you see something, say something” is a public safety campaign widely promoted by railway transit systems and airports worldwide. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is promoting “See Something Say Something” to urge citizens to be alert and to help keep each other safe.

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Profiled By The TSA? There’s An App For That

fly_rightsTasmin Shamma for NPR:

More than a decade after 9/11, heightened security at U.S. airports has become routine, yet some religious and minority groups say they’re unfairly singled out for even more screening. Well, now there’s an app for that.

The mobile app is called FlyRights. Travelers who suspect they have been profiled take out their smartphone, tap a finger on the app and answer about a dozen questions. Then they hit “submit” and an official complaint is filed immediately with the Transportation Security Administration.

The app is the work of civil rights groups led by The Sikh Coalition. Amardeep Singh, co-founder of the Coalition, says the idea came from Sikh entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley who felt they were being stopped unfairly at airports, too often.

“They literally said to one of our staff members, ‘There should be an app for that’,” Amardeep said. “We thought, great idea, let’s start working on it.”

The app has already been tested with the TSA.

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Program Dreams With Your iPhone

SigmundIf this app works, how long before others start to “program” your dreams in ways you may not want? From CNN:

Harvard PhD student Daniel Nadler is trying to bring a really rudimentary version of the movie “Inception” to life with a new iPhone app that aims to help you “program your dreams.”

Called Sigmund, the 99-cent app builds off of pre-existing sleep science to help people “program” the content of their dreams from a list of 1,000 keywords. After you select one to five words from the list, a sorta-soothing, sorta-robotic female voice reads the words you select during the deepest moments of your sleep cycle – the REM cycles – when you’re most likely to dream vividly. In a sleep study that was the basis for the app, 34% to 40% of participants’ dreams were memorably altered by the suggestive readings, he said.

“Obviously what goes on in the sleeping brain is not entirely remembered so it could actually be a higher incorporation rate,” he said.

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